'Fresh look' promised for fatal crash involving officer

February 22, 2008 4:44:54 PM PST
The Cook County state's attorney's office promises to take a "fresh look" at the case of a Chicago police officer who was involved in a crash on Thanksgiving Day that killed two young men on the city's North Side.

An assistant state's attorney met this week with the families of Miguel Flores and Erick Lagunas. They say justice has not been served in this case.

Since thanksgiving, two Chicago families have grieved the loss of two young men.

The charges against the Chicago police officer originally accused of driving drunk in the fatal crash were dismissed by a Cook County judge.

Friday a retired judge and some elected officials demanded a grand jury to look at the case.

It is rare for a judge to publically criticize the Cook County state's attorney.

"We're demanding state's attorney Devine to take this matter and take it to the grand jury for a finding of probable cause," said Retired Judge Raymond Figeroa.

The case in question started with a fatal car crash on thanksgiving. 22 year old Miguel Flores and 21 year old Erick Lagunas were killed. Chicago police officer John Ardelean was driving the other car. He was charged with driving under the influence.

But two weeks ago a judge dismissed the charges against the officer.

This week, the Cook County first assistant state's attorney met with the victims families and committed to taking a "fresh look" at the case according the office's spokesman.

"It's my belief he was not happy with the answers that were provided to him from his staff yesterday upon our inquiry of the presentation and facts in this matter," said Daniel O'Connor, Attorney for victims' families.

"We just want them to take this to a grand jury and have them do the right thing. That's all we're asking for. That's all we have been asking for since the beginning," said Nancy Flores, sister of Miguel Flores.

Friday the family stood with retired judge Raymond Figeroa and other elected officials to hold prosecutors to their promise.

"I find it extremely nerve wracking that we are even at this stage. I expect more from a good man I know as Dick Devine," said IL Sen. William Delgado (D) Chicago.

"It seems to me Mr. Devine already is having second thoughts as to his earlier positions that there was no further evidence to reopen the case. I'm glad that he is doing just that," said Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado.

Officer Ardelean was off duty at the time of the accident. He has been relieved of his duties. The Chicago police have opened an investigation into the officer's actions. Judge Donald Panarese ruled there wasn't enough evidence to support a drunk driving charge.